Advancing the health and well-being of animals and people

Principal Investigator:  George Kollias

Trainee: Marisa Bezjian, Resident in Widlife and Zoological Medicine
Co-Principal Investigators: Noha Abou-Madi; Katherine Beltaire
Contact Information:  Email:; Phone: 607-253-3049
Sponsor:   Clinical Research Grants Program
Grant Number:   N/A  
Title:  Investigating the Reproductive Biology of the Endangered Markhor Goat
Annual Direct Cost:   $5,630
Project Period:    02/01/11-01/31/12

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Markhor goats (Capra falconeri heptneri) are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. With less than 2,500 mature individuals world-wide, an urgent need exists to preserve markhor goats using in situ and ex situ conservation efforts. In situ efforts involve habitat preservation and protection of wild populations, while ex situ efforts involve assisted reproductive techniques (such as sperm cryopreservation and artificial insemination) to bolster the number and genetic integrity of captive and wild populations. Prior to implementing assisted reproductive techniques, the basic reproductive physiology of the species must be known. To date, there have been no published studies regarding the reproductive seasonality of captive markhor bucks or the methods involved in semen collection, extension, and cryopreservation.

Broad Objectives:(1) To generate baseline data regarding the reproductive physiology of captive markhor bucks.(2) To elucidate new knowledge regarding the characteristics, processing, and cryopreservation of markhor buck semen. 


Aim #1: To determine the reproductive seasonality of markhor bucks by tracking monthly changes in scrotal circumference, fecal testosterone, blood testosterone, day length, and temperature over the course of one year of four markhor bucks (ages 7 to 9 years) housed at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse.  Once a month for 10 months, the bucks will be manually restrained for sample collection. During the remaining 2 months (December 2010 and January 2011) when the peak breeding season is suspected to occur (based on behavioral cues of increased aggression, increased urine dribbling, and female tail flagging), the bucks will be anesthetized for sample collection as well as electroejaculation.

Aim #2: To characterize ejaculates from markhor bucks collected via electroejaculation once a month for two months.(i.e. raw semen volume, color, pH, sperm motility, concentration, morphology, plasma membrane integrity, and acrosome status). Currently, markhor breeding programs are carried out by natural service. In order to incorporate artificial insemination into breeding programs, information regarding semen processing and storage must be determined.

Aim #3: To determine the optimal method for storage of markhor sperm by comparing techniques for semen processing and cryopreservation. The raw semen (with and without centrifugation) will be extended (using two different extenders: Tris and Bioxcell and adding glycerol in Tris to semen at two different temperatures: 37°C and 4°C) and cryopreserve it. The samples will be thawed for evaluation of sperm motility, morphology, plasma membrane integrity, and acrosome status to determine the optimal method for long term storage. 

Role of Each Investigator:

Drs. Kollias and Abou-Madi (Co-Principal Investigators) will provide guidance and expertise with markhor sample collection, anesthesia, routine health care, and publication of results stemming from the data.

Dr. Beltaire (Co-Principal Investigator) will provide laboratory facilities as well as expertise and guidance in study design, sample collection and evaluation, laboratory techniques, and publication of results stemming from the data.   

Dr. Bezjian (Clinical Trainee) will be responsible for sample collection, analysis of data, and publication of results stemming from the data. Dr. Bezjian expects to accomplish the above stated objectives and gain experience in mapping the reproductive physiology of an endangered species and in collection and banking of genetic material